Is Promoting Your Art Desperate?

Self promotion and marketing have a bad reputation. Drawing attention to ourselves, our art, and our brands feels like we’re showing off or sends the message that we are desperate for work, love and attention.

People construct zany narratives to accompany the idea of self promotion, such as the cheesy car salesman, or dodgy late night infomercials. These narratives are drilled into us often whether it be through the friends you talk to, your family or the media.

The fact is, if you want to gain traction, make sales, work on paid projects and ultimately earn money and you don’t have a marketing company or an agent to do this for you, your greatest obstacle to success is obscurity.

People need to know who you are. And not just ideal prospects, because anyone is a potential lead. Everyone can potentially support you and find others who want to work with you when you reveal your value to the world.

Even if you do have an agent, you still need to know how to promote yourself properly to create additional options for you and to be ready should that agent not be there for you one day.


A lot of us are brought up to think that standing out is negative in some way, or that by asking people for things is rude; or that to rock the boat and push against the status quo is rebellious and inappropriate.

If we’re too loud, we’re told to hush up. If we make a seemingly unreasonable suggestion, we’re mocked for it. If we try something different or out of the box, most people around you – often without even realising it – will try and dissuade you from doing it, often to protect their own insecurities.

These ideas are innately human. The need to fit in is something that has been built into us over years of evolution, because we are social creatures, and to stand out would indicate that you are not like other people.

Isolating yourself from the community in this way has never been a good survival move because we have always relied on close ties with others in order to ensure our safety and survival, not to mention the fact that others rely on our own contributions too.

Anything we do that even hints at breaking away from the crowd has – for most if not all cultures – very negative connotations.

Why am I telling you all this?

Simply understanding this is an important realisation and the first step in doing what you need to do in order to be seen, to make an impact and to get paid.

Promoting yourself doesn’t mean you need to be an outcast, but it does require you to actively do what feels unnatural if you want to be noticed and to emerge from obscurity.

If you want opportunities to come your way, people simply need to know about you and they need to be reminded of your existence consistently.

Promotion is not a one-off event. Even the most famous people in the world need to maintain a certain level of attention in order to stay relevant, put food on the table, and to continue to see success.

Attracting attention and working with people as a result, is not only useful, it is a necessity.

If you have bills to pay and mouths to feed, it should be seen as a duty and a moral obligation.

Flipping your mindset to viewing promotion and success as a necessity in this way will lead to tremendous changes in how you progress in business. Rather than seeing self promotion as desperate, see it as something that takes courage. See promotion as a means to make an impact.

See it as a tool that enables you to bring an outstanding product or service to the people that need it.

Being proactive in putting your product or service in front of your ideal clients is vital.


You can’t run a sustainable business, let alone bring in the cash flow you need without taking responsibility for generating the projects and sales that you need to make it work, and more.

You cannot afford to sit on the sidelines and be reactive, particularly in todays world where anyone and everyone is out competing with you.

If you are going to earn money from your craft or your skill, you must commit to proactively bringing attention to your work and your brand.

This means reaching out to ideal prospects regularly and letting the world know of your existence through whatever channel and platform you can.

You cannot stop when work is coming in, because when the job ends or you’ve made the last sale, your lack of promotion during that period will mean that your options will diminish.

Understand the importance of putting in the time and energy towards making yourself known, whether that be through reaching out to individuals, sharing a newsletter, writing blog posts and engaging on social media with consistency.

It is all relevant and it all matters. Creating a great product or service goes hand in hand with effective and plentiful promotion activity.

You don’t want to settle for a mediocre business, so don’t settle for mediocre marketing. Tell the world about what you do and who you are in whatever way works.

There’s no need to sell yourself in the traditional sense in modern day self promotion. Just show the world your value and how you can help people. Tell people that the option to work with you is there when the time is right.

Share your work, share your ideas, approach people and tell them how you can help improve their lives and their businesses.

Self promotion is for the brave and for those who believe in what they do, not the desperate.


  1. Absolutely agree Alex.

    Too many of us creatives also don’t do marketing and promotion consistently enough to really gain traction.

    I’ve seen over and over again how creatives think, I’ll just do X course, or get Y qualification thinking that will help them increase revenues. Most of the time that’s not what’s in their way – they are.

    Yet when helping your ideal audience is part and parcel of your self-promotion it not only doesn’t feel self-serving, it’s also way more effective too! 😉

    Best wishes, Una

  2. Thank you so much for this absolut true. It couldn’t come in a better moment in my journey; I have been working for long periods of time with one client or another, basically representing a steady income for years, but the gaps between each one has been a complete nightmare, putting my self in a quite desperate mode, but the truth is that desperation drives me through effective marketing and promotion, hence I reach those new long term contracts. Only until now I decided to keep marketing my brand and studio in spite of the amount of work I had at the moment, if I truly want to keep the exposure as fluent as possible, under any circumstances we must keep promoting and sale our selves to stay alive in the business.

    Thank you!

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